Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The DeVos Family Will Most Likely Choose Unwisely
I've seen my vast share of Magic games in my life, but those last two playoff losses to the Pacers hurt about as much as any other defeat these eyes have observed. This series proved that effort can only take you so far when you're outmatched at almost every position. Stan Van Gundy's Game 5 postgame basically mirrors my view of how proud I am of that Magic roster for battling even in rough spots. I'll leave it at that as we dump this unforgettable rollercoaster-like 2011-2012 season and focus on potentially even more chaotic summer. It'll be interesting to see how we view this period in time 5, 10, 15 years down the road. Anyway, let me build off my topic's title. Do you guys remember that scene in 'Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade' where Indy and that rich Nazi have to decide which cup was the one Christ drank out of? The wealthy man chose (well Elsa picked for him, but that's beside the point) the really glittery cup and ends up literally eroding to death. Dr. Jones picks the plainest cup he can find, ends up being correct in his selection and is thus able to save his father Sean Connery.
Now imagine Dwight as the jeweled cup and Stan Van Gundy as the plain old cup. The shiny superstar 90% of the time prevails over the replaceable Head Coach in any sport. It's just how professional athletics are in this day and age. As many including SVG have said in the past, "we're hired to get fired". Rich DeVos' time is running out. There's no Holy Grail around to stop what only comes natural to us. Remember that epic 'There Can Only Be One' NBA campaign that was ridiculously successful? Well, not counting Otis Smith, Stan or Dwight will not be a member of this Magic franchise come the '12-'13 season. There's a tiny chance both will be gone, but I don't foresee it. It's beyond improbable to think those two will be able to coexist and that it'd be extremely irresponsible for this front office to recklessly assume that this Orlando fan base, the impending roster, and the community can withstand another season of this tumult. ESPN and deplorable 'reporters' are the only ones who can possibly benefit from this saga continuing. The one given ought to be Otis being fired. I'm one of few people comfortable with Adonal Foyle being the replacement. Smith has now had 3 years of overall negative moves for this franchise. Otis should step down and take the pressure off SVG who from day 1 made Smith's life so much easier after coming in as the #2 choice behind Billy Donovan. Stan's 'I don't give a damn' attitude has always been intact. Through good, bad, and ugly times. How many great coaches would've casually come in days after the original primary coaching choice stepped away from the position? It's been about 5 years of pure success since Gator boy got cold feet and man have we been major beneficiaries. The hiring of Stan Van Gundy is an enormous reason why this Magic franchise is here and not in Kansas City.
Yes, I'm sure Dan DeVos and Alex Martins have slayed over their options in going about a crucial segment in this franchise's history. But in the end, they want to see a championship in Orlando before Rich croaks. Which means that barring a miracle, they'll keep on trying to satisfy Dwight. Which equates to getting rid of Stan because there's not enough time for a few years of rebuilding back into a title worthy contender. The thing our front office hasn't realized yet is that Dwight isn't immortality. Superman has reached his ceiling as far as player improvement goes. Howard will never improve his free throws and he never developed that knack for leadership we were all hoping he'd eventually inherit from Jameer and other veterans. We've also seen a steady growth in D12 taking more plays and games off as the years go by. It doesn't take superb eyesight or awareness to notice either. Worse yet, D12's back surgery now puts in doubt his physical capabilities for the future. Howard's lack of boxing out and poor screening was forgiven because of his beastliness. Once that body breaks down, fundamentals and technique are necessary for survival in this league extending well into your 30s. I love what Dwight's done in his 8 years here, but too much damage has been done by poor actions and decisions he or his representatives have made in a short 6-month time span. Lies and flip-flopping have occurred more times than one can calculate with an abacus. His current occupation of Los Angeles. His baby mama Royce saying for over a year that Dwight wanted to be in Brooklyn. His current girlfriend coaxing Dwight into a bigger market. An agent with an agenda to gain more money through big city exposure. I'm going against the grain, but if you can package Dwight with Hedo and Duhon for draft picks and expiring contracts, you easily pull that trigger and begin the clean slate. Rip that band-aid off swiftly now. It's been done before, just look at '99 and a brutal end to the original Lockout-shortened season. John Gabriel couldn't build through the draft and Otis has failed almost as badly. Creative financing in order to set up a smart offseason free agency run in '13 or '14 seems to be best path to choose. Just like that 50-game season, we're at a crucial crossroads that won't be officially prodded and graded until years down the line.
My suggestion: Offer Stan Van Gundy a two-year extension this summer and build our squad around a coach that gets maximum results from little talent. Minus Dwight, the majority of our current Magic locker room loves SVG. Only those with an insubordinate past with head figures seem to despise the man. Why? Because Van Gundys don't fold like your average coach. That intimidates even the toughest of players. The NBA is a diva league full of easy to bruise egos. Even fans that are just Dwight Howard supporters can't deny the fact that Van Gundy is the best coach this franchise has ever had and may ever have. Here's a good free agency rundown from Evan Dunlap at the OPP. Jameer will probably get decent enough offers from other teams to bail. I can't blame Nelson for doing that. Mighty Mite is looking to trade away a decent short-term pay day for a multi-year deal that will keep him around longer. Plus, Jameer will be able to pick his next destination. Orlando should match any offers Ryan Anderson sees, especially after another disastrous playoff run. Mr. Anderson is only 24 years old though and he's still a damn good player that we can build around. Redick's not going anywhere as J.J. very well becomes our veteran face come training camp. Hold on to your rookies and hope Earl Clark, Wafer, and Ish Smith can be kept for minimal money. Who knows, we may finally see some European centers in Fran Vazquez and Milovan Rakovic wearing our pinstripes. That's enough youth and athleticism to help offset any old bodies we gain/retain.
Whatever the path, we're in superb hands when it comes to the long-term. Gorgeous new arena. Favorable weather and tax situation. Alex and Dan have a massive interest in bringing a championship to the City Beautiful. Magic fans don't have to worry about the DeVos family selling the franchise even after Rich passes. His kids and grandchildren have too much invested into this team. No, I'm not talking dollars either. Though it does help to have a few billion at your disposal. Our main concerns, observations, and critiques begin now through the next two/three years. Do you side with Dwight and hope he keeps showing the loyalty while praying your new GM and new coach are competent enough to deliver a championship? Or do you cut ties now, build around a top 5 NBA coach, a tight core for the future, and make the necessary tactical moves to get several millions of dollars under the cap in preparation for a 2014 run? Winning isn't easy, especially in as small a market as we are. I fear the DeVos family will open the door to getting slighted by Dwight, will fire Stan, and will ride that surgically repaired back for the quick fix. I hope Martins' alleged ultimatum to Dwight about signing a long-term extension within the next few weeks is a sign that my viewpoint and opinion ends up coming true. We're in for a long and unpredictable summer. This is my plea to the DeVos family: Please pick Stan Van Gundy. If you ditch SVG then another franchise will immediately swoop in and make their easiest signing of the summer, setting up their team for improvement and eventual glory. I'm ready to say goodbye to Dwight. What about you?